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Bills coach Sean McDermott on rookie minicamp, Josh Allen, Tremaine Edmunds and more

Head Coach Sean McDermott

Friday, May 11, 2018

Q: Can you just go over what you’re hoping to get out of the two day rookie minicamp, Coach?

A: Yeah, it’s good to get the guys in here beginning last night a little bit. You want to come in- it’s on two different levels: the first level being the drafted players starting to understand our schemes, our systems, our program, and how we do things in all areas of our building in terms of the process. Then, for some of the priority free agent guys we signed after the draft, and particularly guys that are on a tryout basis through the weekend, is really- it’s an opportunity for them to put their best foot forward and show us what they can do, albeit [in] a small window of time.

Q: How many quarterback’s arms have you seen that’s as good as Josh Allen’s? What is his raw strength?

A: Yeah, I mean, Josh has a strong arm. I think we all know that. I’ve been around the league long enough to know that it’s one of the stronger arms; I’m not going to compare it to some of the guys I’ve been around. He’s got a talented arm, so within that, there’s other areas that are just as important, though, for arm strength, and that’s where we have a lot of work to do. The great part about Josh is [that] he came in with a great mindset; he’s embraced that growth mindset of getting better every day and that’s what we’re looking forward to in the future.

Q: Have you seen a stronger arm, though?

A: I mean, look, there’s a lot of quality quarterbacks over the course of history in this league. I know one, for sure, you’ve got that Broncos on hat or whatever you’re sporting over there [laughs]. There’s a lot of quality quarterbacks that have had strong arms in the league over the years. I’m sure you can name a few just off the top of your head.

Q: How much are you feeding these guys as far as scheme to use in this setting? How much do you expose them to what you do in such a short amount of time?

A: We keep it fairly simple just so they can come out, and that’s, again, for two reasons. They can come out, get acclimated to what we’re doing, but also so we can evaluate them playing at top speed through the weekend here. To inundate them with a lot of scheme [and] a lot of volume, wouldn’t be in their best interest, and because of that, in our best interest from an evaluation standpoint.

Q: Sean, now that you’ve had maybe a few chances to talk to Tremaine [Edmunds], what strikes you about someone who just turned 20, and where he’s at at a maturity level for a guy that’s so young?

A: First of all, he comes from a great family; that was evident fairly early on in our process. Our scouts, Brandon [Beane] and his staff did a great job, as you’ve heard me say before, with the process involved and getting to know, not only Tremaine, but a lot of the other drafted players. When Tremaine visited the day after the draft there with his family, it was clear early on where he comes from and what his roots are. His maturity level at a young age, I would go back and credit where he comes from and his support system, really; we all saw his brother was drafted as well. It’s a little bit unique, but my hat really goes off to his parents, and his family, and his support system.

Q: Hey Sean, at this point, at this very early point with these rookies coming in, we heard Taron [Johnson] could be a nickel, we heard Tremaine could be outside, inside, whatever. Are you really concerning yourself with where these guys might ultimately end up or are you just trying to get them engrained into the NFL and just get there and get to work? What’s your philosophy?

A: A little bit of both; we do start that process. What we try and do, really, is we try and introduce them, more than anything, to ‘okay, day one in the NFL’. They all went through and the process of getting drafted which is great and life as a big fish in a small pond in college. Now, it’s ‘hey, welcome to the NFL’. Here’s where the training room is, here’s where the locker room is. There’s a part that’s on the field, but there’s also a part that is off the field in terms of: here’s where you find these resources to help you be the best version of yourself. That’s what we do in our building; I’m not sure what people do in their buildings as much, but I know how we approach [it] in our building.

Q: During your career, have you ever had a guy that’s undrafted show up at a rookie minicamp, you look at him and, is there an example of a guy where you go ‘how did we miss him [or] how did this guy not get drafted?’

A: Yeah, that’s really what we look for - that’s what we’re looking for this weekend. Who’s slipped through the cracks, and maybe for what reason? In terms of whether it’s athletic ability or intelligence, that’s an overlooked area as well. It’s important to have athletes, but we also look for the football IQ that goes along with the athleticism and what not. That’s what we’re looking for. You find those from time to time. Our scouting staff, I believe, does a great job and so we’ve got a number of guys that we’re going to take a hard look at this weekend with that in mind.

Q: Any guys in particular in the past that you remember thinking ‘wow?’ Is there a name?

A: We’ll I’ve been around a number of undrafted players; there’s some on our roster. I wasn’t maybe around early on in their process, but I remember Quintin Mikell, a safety that played for us in Philadelphia out of Boise State, I believe they’re the Broncos, he went on to become an all-pro and really credit to the way he approached his job. You notice early on what traits he had from a football standpoint, just to name one [player].

Q: What is fair this weekend as far as evaluating Josh [Allen] especially, from us, really, when we’re out at practice versus the teaching aspect of what goes on?

A: I’ll just speak on what we look at, I’m not going to get into what’s fair for you guys. That’s your area. Similar to the rest of the players, I’m looking for Josh and the other players to come out and get a feel and a comfort level for how we do things in our program, not only on the field, but off the field as well. [To get a feel for] what it means to be a Buffalo Bill and the standard our players have created over the last year, and really acclimate himself and themselves to that standard as quickly as they can.

Q: So the point being, if he misses a pass today or is inaccurate or something, how much of that is weighing on your mind versus this being a learning stage for him?

A: We embrace, you’ve heard me say before, whether it’s Josh or anyone else on our roster or this weekend is we embrace that growth mindset. We believe in learning on the job, so there’s going to be- if you take that approach of continual improvement, it’s shown over the years that you’ll end up where you’re trying to end up, or at least closer to where you’re trying to end up in terms of your goals. Anyone coming in here this weekend, and that includes me, [knows that] we are not where we need to be and you can say the same thing for our roster of guys right now. There’s a big gap between where we are and where we’re trying to go and that’s why we stress so much ‘the process’ around here and what goes in to where we’re trying to get to.

Q: I know it’s early Sean, but last year Leslie [Frazier] talked about how he noticed, you noticed that Tre’Davious [White] was ready to be a starter in this league come May, early June. How eager are you to see what Tremaine can do on the field in these next three, four weeks to gain a spot in that linebacker group?

A: Yeah, you know, listen, there’s a lot that has to happen before he puts himself in that position. The number one thing I would say is he’s got to earn it, and that goes for everyone on our roster. This is a place where we earn things and spots are earned and you’ll see him out there today commanding the huddle. That’s a big part of the evaluation, a guy that’s a signal caller, can come in [and] have great command of the huddle on the defensive side in this case for Tremaine and then execute at a high level. There’s a lot of work to do between now and the time when we name starters, but Tremaine is another young man that I believe respects that, respects what it takes to start at a level like this, and in particular, the Buffalo Bills.

Q: How much of his dad’s influence do you see in Austin Proehl?

A: Well, Austin and I, and you guys know, Brandon and I both were around Austin and had a chance to be around his family as well in Carolina. There’s a lot of Ricky’s [Proehl] influence, just like there would be, I hope, on my children and my family. That being said, he’s got a strong supporting cast with his wife and his extended family as well, Ricky does. Austin just comes from a great, well rounded family that has a great balance of life, and faith and support. You see that in Austin; he’s a well-rounded young man and has had success in his career in part because of the family that he comes from.

Q: Sean, you talked about all the players adjusting and evaluations of each one of them. The reality is [that] there’s more scrutiny on the quarterback. Do you feel the need to say anything to Josh, about keeping the blinders on at a certain point now that he’s kind of adjusting to the pro game or play it out? Sam Darnold fumbled his first snap and everything that happens there at rookie minicamp. Do you feel the need to say anything to Josh about any of that?

A: Listen, I think Josh is a fairly grounded young man and you guys will get to know him if you haven’t already. With that said, yes, for all of our players, there is a grooming process that takes place. It is a scrutinized position because it’s a critical position around what we all know as a quarterback driven league. We’ve got a plan in place for all of our players, [and] for this case, Josh, in terms of bringing them along at the right pace, creating a great base, a great foundation, so that, as they move forward in their career, we don’t get into a situation where you can’t go back and reestablish that base two, three years from now. We’ve got to do it now. That not only speaks to what happens on the field, but off the field as well.

Q: What are you expecting from him? You already talked about Tremaine on the other side of the ball, commanding the huddle. What are you expecting from Josh right away here?

A: Yeah, similar [to Tremaine]. We just went through a little bit of a walkthrough and he’s just really coming out, being able to get the verbiage and the terminology down early on and command the huddle. Albeit, he’s working with a different set of players in some regard through the weekend, but just to get a nice grasp on what we’re doing and, really, what leads us to snapping the ball because we talk a lot around here about unforced errors [and] before you win, you’ve got to prevent yourself from losing. That falls a lot on the quarterback position.

Q: How much voice or influence did Coach [Brian] Daboll have in identifying Robert Foster as a priority free agent?

A: Yes, [Daboll] had a big influence on that as well as our scouting department. The communication that ensued between Dabs and our scouting department, Joe Schoen and his staff as well, you don’t find that all the time, because sometimes, there is a line. For us, our staffs have worked extremely well together, Brandon’s staff [and] my staff. The firsthand knowledge that Brian had with Foster meant a lot in the process and we’re excited to have him in camp here.

Q: Sean, what do you think Dan Morgan is going to bring to the organization?

A: Well, I love the fact that, just his upbringing, and how he was raised, his mindset, the way he played the game, he’s very well thought of in the place that I just came from in Carolina. They still have some pictures of him on the wall, and that’s for the obvious reason: because he played the game a certain way, he handled his business off the field a certain way. The mark he left on that organization, I would hope he’d leave just as big, if not a bigger mark on our organization here. I believe he will. There’s a lot of things that are highly valued in this business, and being able to identify talent is one of them, and he’s done that over the course of his career. We look forward to having him and his family here for a long time.

Q: What made Levi Wallace able to go from being a walk-on at Alabama to getting into that starting lineup and that secondary?

A: Oh man, you know, his story, I don’t know how many of you are aware of his story and where he came from and really how he made his mark on the Alabama program and on campus there. Shortly after the draft, and I’m going to be honest, I didn’t know his full story like I do now. I was doing my own research, Derek [Boyko] and his staff do a great job of providing me with some background on some of these guys that doesn’t immediately come to the surface. His story is remarkable. [He is] really a guy that has earned everything he’s gotten, I believe [he] was a walk-on the first two years at Alabama; that’s not a place where you would associate walk-ons having a lot of success and he obviously did. To meet him and to read about his story, we’ll see with this weekend and how he handles himself, but that’s a great- if you want to write about anything, that’s a great story to sink your teeth into over the weekend here.


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